The past three months have been an emotional rollercoaster. I was working full time as Director of Operations at a San Francisco based consulting firm and as of November 1st, I had the additional responsibility of raising 15K to support projects taking place at the Budondo Intercultural Center in Budondo, Uganda. There were days I thought there was no way I could raise 15K. I remember not wanting to email anyone telling them about this endeavor as a Global Advocate and the journey I was about to embark on – let alone ask them for money. I thought, what would people think? Would anyone actually support me and a community they know little about? On top of this – I still had all the responsibilities that came with my full-time position. Yet, I was able to raise the 15k in three months and now I have just arrived to Budondo where I will live for the next 4 months and ensure that all donations are going towards self-sustainable projects.
It was quite an adjustment to get home from work and have the responsibility of learning about the Budondo Intercultural Center and create a fundraising plan. I knew if I was going to pull this off I was going to have to work hard and be persistent. My plan consisted of three strategies; networking, social media campaign and events. To network, I emailed my contact list telling them about the Global Advocate program and asked them for their financial support or to share the cause with their network. I created a social media campaign which included Facebook posts, blog posts, and Mailchimp updates. Lastly, I hosted 7 events including a bake sale, clothing swap, tamale sale, yoga class and silent auction. Overall, I fundraised about half of the 15K from networking and my social media campaign and the other half from the fundraising events I hosted. It was not easy but nonetheless, it has been very rewarding.
There were several things I focused on to achieve my goal. First, when there were times of self-doubt I’d re-read the Budondo Intercultural Center’s story and instantly be inspired. It took them years before they received any kind of donation. Their persistence paid off and I knew mine would as well. I also focused on engaging with my community. I wanted to ensure people knew that they could help make an impact in more ways than one. My immediate friends helped with creating marketing materials for fundraisers and social media posts. It wasn’t your typical monetary donation, but their time and effort in getting the word out was more than enough! The important thing in fundraising is to stay open minded. No matter someone’s financial situation, I would like people to know that they can make an impact by using their skill set. After all, that’s what this is all about; connecting lives and helping each other succeed.
The most rewarding night throughout this process was the Silent Auction Fundraiser – I raised just over 5k in one night. This was a big accomplishment. I received over 36 auction items ranging from San Francisco Ballet tickets, a set of Pottery Barn sheets and photography donated by my roommate. The process was so fun and it allowed me the opportunity to expand my network. I can also say that I spent no money in coordinating the event – which makes you realize the impact that can be made with little resources!
Now, everything didn’t always go as planned. Throughout the three months it was difficult staying positive and confident that I would reach my goal. There were social media campaigns that were complete flops – no donations were received. There were fundraising events with a very small turnout. There were also several times that I was rejected or received no response. One thing I learned throughout this process is that if people don’t connect with the cause I had to accept that. These individuals lead me closer to those who would connect with the cause.
In retrospect, I worked hard for what I accomplished and am grateful for all the lessons learned during the process. It took commitment and an awesome support system in the Mama Hope team and my close friends and family. As I start the next chapter of this journey I continue to fundraise, this time from Uganda. I will be applying to grants and will continue a social media campaign. Now that I am in Budondo I am excited to work alongside the locals and ensure that all money fundraised is making a positive impact and contributing to self-sustainable projects. It is truly remarkable what we can accomplish together and I thank everyone for your encouragement and support.
P.S. I still have at least 5K to fundraise to achieve my goal! You can support the Budondo Intercultural Center by making a donation here.